May 14, 2012
Freshman Mikelis Libietis was named the ITA Ohio Valley Region Rookie of the Year after leading the Vols at the top of the singles and doubles lineup every match in 2012.
Libietis, a native of Priekuli, Latvia, is currently ranked No. 28 nationally in singles and No. 12 in doubles with redshirt freshman Hunter Reese.
In a season in which the Vols returned just one starter from the 2011 SEC champion team, Libietis found his role at No. 1 singles and doubles. Playing against highly ranked opponents every week, the powerful right-hander led Tennessee with a 20-13 singles and 26-11 doubles record.
Libietis became just the seventh freshman in UT history to play No. 1 singles. It is good company to be in, considering four of those freshmen -- Andy Kohlberg, Mike DePalmer Jr., Chris Woodruff and John-Patrick Smith -- later became ranked No. 1 nationally.
The ITA regional honor is Libietis third postseason award. He was also named first-team All-SEC and was a member of the SEC All-Freshman Team.
Though the Vols' season ended Sunday with a 4-0 loss in the NCAA second round to North Carolina, Libietis is not quite ready to pack his bags for Latvia just yet. He is set to play in the 64-player field at the NCAA Singles Championships next week in Athens, Ga. He and Reese will play doubles as well.
Tennessee has boasted finalists in the NCAA singles or doubles tournaments each of the last four years, including John-Patrick Smith's surprise run to the singles title match as a freshman in 2008.